Sybil 2000

Gospel text

John 16: 12-15

12 I still have many things to tell you, but you are unable to bear it yet. 13 However, when he comes with the breath of truth, he will guide you to the whole truth. Because he will not speak for himself, but as far as he can hear, he will speak and explain to you the things to come. 14 He will reveal my extraordinary quality of being, because he will receive what is mine and explain it to you. 15 Everything that belongs to the Father also belongs to me. This is why I said that he receives what is mine and will explain it to you.


So much to share?

Gospel commentary - Homily

In His image He created us

The Sunday liturgy intends to celebrate the Holy Trinity, i.e. the affirmation that our God is three people. Traditionally, the Christian community has referred to this statement as a mystery, a reality difficult to understand: how can a being be both three and one? And traditionally, theological reflection will present the functional role of each person, the mystical reflection will speak of the flow of love gushing in divine people. But if I want to be frank, none of this really touches me.

The short extract from the Gospel of John on this Sunday, however, says something interesting: there are many realities revealed through Jesus that we are unable to bear alone, to which we will succeed in opening up only over time due to the work of the Spirit, who will make us perceive that through him it is the very reality of God that lets itself be seen. What is this reality? Very often this reality could be summed up in the communion of Jesus with his Father, and of the Spirit at work in Jesus. But where is John getting all that?

When the evangelist speaks of communion between the Father, Jesus and the Spirit, I have the clear impression that he is speaking from his human experience of communion. Isn't that normal? We do not have direct access to the being of God, except through the mirror of our life experiences. And what was the experience of the one Jesus loved, the one who opened his mind and heart to his teaching, who accompanied him on the roads of Palestine, to speak to us in this way of communion?

It is here, however, that one can easily deceive oneself and put the label "communion" everywhere. What exactly is this communion? I experience the absence of communion much more often. Again this past weekend, we were visiting a couple of old friends. Topic for discussions could not be lacking because the spouse has been living for a few years very crucial moments both physically and mentally. But it was impossible to get to the "heart of things". Too much fragility? Too much superficiality? Blinding revolt? Regardless, it was impossible to establish a real exchange marked by listening and openness that would have made it possible to vibrate together to the mystery of each; we had to camp in the banalities and things external to oneself.

I know that communion is not a fusion. When someone can no longer support his life and that of his spouse during a divorce, to the point of committing suicide or murder, does he say anything other than that his relationship was a crutch? Or even, a couple like the one I met in the '75s, at the height of the marriage renewal sessions, who dressed in exactly the same way, does not send back a false message, in addition to having us smile?

Communion is not possible without a great capacity for openness: "Because he will not speak for himself, but as far as he can hear, he will speak". Who closes oneself to the joy and pain of others, closes oneself to communion. Communion also presupposes a great capacity to give: "All that the Father has is mine". How difficult it is for me to repeat: "What is mine is also yours".

But I perceive something more in the affirmations of the evangelist: to the extent that we wake up to what we really are, we realize that we need to live communion in the manner of this living water demanded by the Samaritan woman after her meeting with Jesus. To discover oneself a child of God is to discover oneself called to communion, a communion never completely satisfied, because it has the very dimensions of the Trinity.

The life with its worries, its clashes, its disappointments, its pleasures, its efforts, its struggles, its meanness can sometimes partially mask this call recorded at the core of our being. But one day something rushes out from us, like the burning lava of a volcano and reminds us of it with force. I will always remember this conversation with a Japanese doctor converted to the Christian faith. To my question, "What has the Christian faith changed in your life, since as a Buddhist you put love at the center of your life?", he replied, "It is true! But now when I love, I know that I participate in the very love of the Trinity".


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, March 2001